Synodontis mnogopyatnisty (Synodontis multipunctatus) Boulenger, 1898.
Synodontis: from the Greek syn – “together” and odontos, which means “tooth”; in relation to the closely spaced teeth of the lower jaw.
Multipunctatus: Latin “multi” means a lot, and “punctatus” means points and describes the characteristics of this species.
Family: Fringed / Cavity Soma or Mokhokida (Mochokidae).
Multi-spotted synodontis or Cuckoo Som – the fish is so named because of the method it uses for breeding – placing its eggs in someone else’s “nest.”
This species is endemic to Lake Tanganyika, East Africa.
Quite numerous in natural habitats, often found in large flocks at depths of 40 meters or more, where the presence of sunlight becomes barely noticeable. It was once believed that this is only a night catfish, a more appropriate definition may be “sensitive to light”, which becomes evident in an aquarium, as the species greatly appreciates muffled light in order to remain inconspicuous.
They live in areas where stones and sand alternate. At the depth at which they are, there are no plants.
At this depth, there is no such gas exchange as in the surf zone, so the chemical composition of the water is very stable.
The body of the catfish is elongated, the main color of which is light beige to gray, it becomes darker with age, often a very attractive golden-bronze color on the head and upper part of the body. Whitish belly with or without spots.
On the main color there are round dark spots of different sizes, large ones cover the body, and the head is dotted with small spots.
Teenagers have bigger spots and sometimes they merge.
Dorsal and pectoral fins with black triangles at the base, posterior margins in white. Triangles of this type can be completely dark or consist of closely spaced points.
The black triangles at the base of the ventral and anal fins are absent or poorly developed. At the base of these fins may be a single black spot. Adipose fin with white upper margin.
Both lobes of the caudal fin with a dark stem from the base to the tip, the posterior edge of the fin is white.
It seems that there are southern and northern (at least) varieties, with the northern one being the “original” form, and the southern one as a whole is lighter with a large distance between the spots.
Usually 15 cm in aquariums, larger specimens of about 27 cm are recorded in nature.
A very attractive and hardy medium-sized catfish that will be a great neighbor in an aquarium with inhabitants from Lake Malawi or Tanganyika. They are often more active during the daytime than many other Synodonts, especially if they are in a group.
It should not be kept with such a fish that is so small that it will consider it its food, but it is a good addition to the community of cichlids living in an aquarium with hard water, ideally – Cichlids incubating offspring in the mouth, people of African rift lakes.
They should be kept in a group of four or more soms, as single specimens are often very secretive and invisible.
The size of the aquarium is optimal 120x30x30 cm – from 110 liters, as these catfish must be kept in a group.
The aquarium-biotope of Lake Tanganyika is best suited, with a heap of stones forming grottoes and crevices between them and the open water area for swimming. Use fine gravel or sand as a soil substrate.
Poor lighting will encourage fish to be seen more often.
Temperature: 24 to 28 ° C
Stiffness: 15-35 ° DH
Regular weekly water changes, effective filtration and aeration are necessary, as these fish produce a large biological load when they are kept in an aquarium.
Synodontis are omnivores and are the most unpretentious in terms of nutrition. Frozen, live and dry food, everything fits.
In addition, they are happy to eat food of plant origin in the form of peeled peas, cucumber, etc., which will be cut off with teeth located on the lower jaw.
Mature females are fuller than males. Male individuals have a higher, more pointed dorsal fin.
Males can be identified by their genital papillae. Females have a rounded nipple, and males are spiky, approximately 3-4 mm having a slightly triangular shape.
It should be noted that in most species of medium / large Synodontis it takes 2 years or more to reach puberty.
This complex relationship between cuckoos and cichlids naturally makes reproduction of Synodontis multipunctatus a bit difficult, as you must provide them with suitable, breeding cichlid adoptive parents for their offspring. However, this is far from impossible and the level of success is actually very high.
Unlike most members of the genus, Synodontis Spotted actually quite often breeds in aquariums and provides a unique opportunity for an aquarist to witness an unusual spawning. This is the only fish that has a spawning method known as nesting parasitism.
Catfish of the genus Synodontis, inhabiting Lake Tanganyika, have adapted to throw their eggs to other cichlids, which incubate the eggs in the mouth. The development of catfish eggs is faster and the catfish fry first hatched begin to eat caviar of the host fish.
Involuntarily, a pair of cichlids begins to guard the fry, as if they are their own.
This can be done relatively easily in aquariums. First you need to prepare a spawning aquarium as if it were other fish that can eat the eggs of the Synodontis. It should contain heaps of stones or shelters in the form of clay pots, only the design should be much simpler than in the species aquarium of Lake Tanganyika.
This is due to the fact that adult fish must be removed after spawning. It is necessary to choose the appropriate type of caring nanny owner. A good choice is the small Haplochromine cichlids (Haplochromine) of Lake Victoria and Malawi (see below).
Both species of fish must be in the prespawning state on an intensive diet of live and frozen food and the water must be very clean with minimal nitrate content.
The male will closely monitor the behavior of cichlids, and as soon as the first signs of spawning appear, it will be sent for the female. If she finds the situation appropriate, the male begins to pursue her, waiting for the cichlids to lay eggs.
As soon as the cichlids start spawning, the catfish will hasten to postpone and fertilize their eggs, at this time eating the eggs of the cichlids as much as possible. This may be repeated several times, as the male cichlid will energetically protect the breeding ground.
As soon as the cichlids have finished their spawning, the female cichlids will collect all the eggs, including catfish, to bear them in the mouth. At this stage, the catfish can be removed from the aquarium.
Synodontis fry usually hatch after 3 days or so, their first food is caviar and all hatching fry of cichlids. After they are released from the mouth of the unwitting mother of the cichlid, the adoptive parents can also be removed.
The fry feed greedily, first the nauplii of Artemia, until they are large enough to move to larger feed.
Reproduction in aquariums has also been recorded in the absence of host fish species, although this is unusual. It can also occur in nature (see below).
The multi-spotted synodontis can live in an aquarium for up to 15 years.
The reason why we recommended above to use non-Tanganyik host cichlids is that successful spawning in an aquarium using Tanganyika cichlid species has never been registered! This may be due to the evolutionary process that is observed in the lake, in which many species of cichlids seem to have learned how to prevent S. multipunctata during reproduction.
Since no species of parasitic catfish have been found in Lake Malawi or Victoria, cichlids from these lakes are ideal for placement in spawning aquariums, since they do not have a natural instinct for the presence of S. multipunctata during reproduction.
As mentioned above, S. multipunctata is not necessary for its eggs to be incubated in the mouth of a different species, as spawning sometimes occurred, in the absence of adoptive parents. It is likely that this also occurs in natural conditions, since the population of this species is large, and during nesting parasitism, relatively little caviar is safely preserved.
The female S. multipunctata is able to set aside several hundred eggs, but in studies it was found that a relatively small number of cichlids bearing offspring in the mouth wear spawn catfish. When considering the above facts, it makes sense to assume that this species can also multiply on its own, like many other Synodontis.